Strengthening Your Muscles

Strengthening Your Muscles

Strength training is a key part of a complete exercise program. Learn exactly what it is and how to get started.

The Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training (also called weightlifting) builds lean muscle mass. This makes both your muscles and bones stronger. It is very important as we age because it may reduce the signs and symptoms of:

Examples of strength training include:

  • Weight lifting, using:
    • Free weights
    • Weight machines
    • Elastic tubing
  • Body weight exercises, such as push ups or chin ups

How to Get Started

If you have not lifted weights before, see a certified athletic trainer to help you come up with a safe strength-training program. You can find a trainer at a local gym or by asking your doctor or a friend. Tips for getting started:

  • Begin each exercise with light weights and just a few repetitions (reps).
  • Slowly add weight, never adding more than 10% in a workout.
  • Do strength-training exercises 2 or more days per week. Allow at least one day between each workout for your bones and muscles to rest.
  • Over time, build up to 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps with a rest period of 60 seconds between sets.
  • Stiffness the day after exercise is normal. Pain is not. If you are in pain, you did too much. Exercise for a shorter time or at a lower intensity.

Note: Before starting any type of exercise program, check with your doctor about any health problems that would limit your exercise program.


American Council on Exercise


Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine


2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. United States Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 29, 2021.
Exercise: how to get started. Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(12):2095-2096.
Growing stronger—strength training for older adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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